Say Hello to the New Interface! | Alexander Street

Say Hello to the New Interface!

July 29, 2013

20+ New Features Boost Research, Teaching, Learning, and Sharing


(ALEXANDRIA, VA) –Alexander Street Press has just added more than a dozen innovative features to its acclaimed academic video search interface. The launch represents the culmination of 18 months of work by more than 30 developers and marks the debut of semantic facet browsing—a groundbreaking tool that speeds research and discovery.

This release is the first in a series of enhancements that will ultimately add more than 20 new features. Chief among the new developments is semantic facet browsing—an algorithm that identifies the user’s category of interest from a single keyword, then presents options germane to that subject.

For example, music scholars can search for “F minor” and instantly receive hundreds of results, including audio tracks, videos, and—coming soon—liner notes, scores, and related text materials. While other music services return only audio results that have “F minor” listed in the title of the track, semantic facet browsing enables users to discover the full breadth of relevant content. After search results are returned, dozens of discipline-specific facets—from time period and composer to performer and instrument—help users drill down to the exact content they’re after.

The facets also enable the user to learn while searching. A search for “behavior modification” returns facets that illustrate the term’s usage within health sciences and counseling disciplines, and with presenting conditions such as anxiety, anger, and chronic pain. The facets show related therapeutic approaches, important authors and contributors, places, and organizations discussed—all before the user even clicks a single search result.

New features available in the first release include:

  • Rich, seamless, in-depth text searching across more than 900,000 tracks and 17,000 videos.
  • Discipline- and topic-based landing pages: View editor-curated playlists and highlighted content to easily locate materials of interest and make new discoveries.
  • Next generation video player and toolbar: Experience bit-rate streaming that automatically adjusts to your bandwidth—up to HD-quality—and enjoy enhanced viewing and clip-making options.
  • Audio waveform view: Easily create, annotate, and share audio clips.
  • Semantic facet browsing: Browse “smart facets” that help the user quickly narrow by sophisticated semantic fields like historical era, counseling theory, person discussed, and more.
  • Translation functionality: View every page, liner note, and transcript in dozens of languages.
  • Citation exporter: Instantly export and share citations in MLA, Chicago, and APA formats.

Additional functionality coming later this year includes:

  • COUNTER4- and SUSHI-compliant usage statistics: Gain in-depth insight into which titles and subjects your patrons use most.
  • Dedicated smartphone app: In addition to watching, listening, and reading, you can now share on the go.
  • Outbound discovery: Search select high-caliber Web sites and archives alongside Alexander Street content.
  • Liner notes: Search the full-text of audio album liner notes and access the supplementary information so often lost in the digitization process.
  • Dedicated learning objects: Use our open API to build your own quizzes, maps, timelines, study guides, and more.

“This level of functionality has never been seen before,” says Stephen Rhind-Tutt, President of Alexander Street Press. “How often did John F. Kennedy refer directly to Cuba in his speeches? Now, you can not only identify every instance, but with one click, you can watch him say the word. We’re excited to see all of the innovative things that users will do with these features.”

The new functionality is now available to customers of VAST: Academic Video  Online and five of Alexander Street Press’s acclaimed music listening collections—American Song, Classical Music Library, Contemporary World Music, Jazz Music Library, and Smithsonian Global Sound for Libraries. The capabilities will continue to grow as new features are added, and will be phased in to all of Alexander Street’s more than 80 scholarly collections throughout the 2013–2014 academic year.

For a comprehensive overview of current and forthcoming features in VAST, please click here; for music features, please click here. To request a trial of the new interface or pricing information, please email sales [at] alexanderstreet [dot] com.


About Alexander Street Press
Alexander Street Press is an electronic publisher of award-winning online collections and video for scholarly research, teaching, and learning. Our products are available to libraries and educational institutions worldwide via annual subscription or one-time purchase. Learn more at

Contact for Media Inquiries/Reviewer Access:

Abby Horowitz, Marketing Writer
Alexander Street Press

3212 Duke Street
Alexandria, VA 22314
703-212-8520 x 313
ahorowitz [at] alexanderstreet [dot] com

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